MY PEOPLE

Hughes first published “My People” in 1923. Bold photographs that joyfully celebrate the diversity of African-American culture bring this simple text to life once again. Faces of various skin tones and ages, and both genders, explode from the black background of each page, all reproduced in faintly antiqued sepia tones that both befit the Jazz Age origins of the poem and give glorious depth to the faces depicted. The image that illustrates “The stars are beautiful” is of hair ornaments in deep, rich, black hair; light-bathed faces look up into an implied “sun.” Smith’s eye for detail and his extraordinary photographs eloquently express the pride and love the poet felt for his people, capturing equally the curiosity and excitement of youth and the experience and wisdom of elders. The simple yet brilliant photographs fully occupy the page; filmstrip-like thumbnails at the edges provide a visual rhythm. All together, they are the perfect accompaniment to the classic poem and create a complex work of art that any age can relish. (photographer’s note) (Picture book. 2-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3540-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2008

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LIZARDS, FROGS, AND POLLIWOGS

POEMS AND PAINTINGS

“It’s wise to stay clear / Of the dangerous cobra / All months of the year, / Including Octobra.” But it wouldn’t be wise to stay clear of Florian’s latest poetry collection, sixth in his successful series of witty poems and paintings about creatures of all sorts (Mammalabilia: Poems and Paintings, 2000, etc.). This volume includes 21 short poems about reptiles and amphibians, including common creatures such as the bullfrog and the box turtle and more exotic specimens such as the komodo dragon and the red-eyed tree frog. Teachers will like the way the rhyming poems integrate into elementary science lessons, imparting some basic zoological facts along with the giggles, and kids will love the poems because they’re clever and funny in a style reminiscent of Ogden Nash, full of wordplay and sly humor. Florian’s impressionistic full-page illustrations are done in watercolors on primed, brown paper bags, often offering another layer of humor, as in the orange newt reading the Newt News on the cover. A first choice for the poetry shelves in all libraries, this collection is toadally terrific. (Poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202591-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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